Bailey Situation Dicey

The Redskins say they offered Champ Bailey a bundle of money. Bailey's side says those reports are wrong. Very wrong. This is not the best way to start off negotiations for a soon-to-be prized free agent.

But it makes you wonder why it started this way. And where it's headed. My guess: to a bad ending.

The Redskins say they offered Bailey a deal with a $14.75 million contract, a nine-year deal worth $50 million. Bailey's agent, Jack Reale, called those numbers wrong because some of that bonus money would not be in guaranteed money up front. And the final two years of the deal is heavily backloaded, dragging down the actual value of the contract.

It could be that the Redskins are trying to make Bailey look bad by offering a seemingly good deal, but one that has pitfalls for the player. They offered similar deals to running back Stephen Davis and tackle Jon Jansen before they got serious.

Why would they want to go this route? Because maybe they know they can't afford to keep him: the word on the street is that there's a cash flow problem here (one reason to cut Dan Wilkinson). And this is a way to save face.

Why else would they make this offer public? Bailey's side wanted to keep this out of the papers, yet the Redskins leaked the information. Why tick off arguably your best player in this manner? It doesn't make any sense to start negotiations with bad feelings. Unless you don't plan to keep him. Also, why would you make a take-it-or-leave-it offer in August? Again, you don't do that with a player of his caliber--but you do it this way if you're waging a PR battle.

That's not based on fact, just a strong hunch.

On the other hand, it might be that Bailey is tired of this organization and the losing and wants out. Maybe this is their way of spinning and setting the stage for his departure. Based on what he's been through here--five coordinators, four head coaches and one playoff appearance--I can't blame him.

Know this about Bailey: when the local media voted on their first Good Guy award, he won by a landslide. There's nothing bad to say about him. He's a good guy, a highly, highly competitive guy and very proud. The Redskins might have underestimated that side of him.

There's a chance that the bonus part could be worked out, and isn't as far off the mark as Bailey's side says. But the average deal for the first seven years is only a little more than $4 million. And that's not acceptable to them.

It'll be interesting to see what happens if the Redskins ever do offer Bailey the deal he wants. Will they do that? Will he sign? This is a drama that could end up with a sad outcome. But maybe that's what both sides are looking for.

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